It’s officially ESG reporting season! The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey opens on April 1st. As organizations prepare for GRESB, we wanted to share a few proven strategies for first time and seasoned participants.

GRESB market leaders focus on the long game, as organizations are rated against their peer group like a bell curve and the bar is constantly being raised. GRESB is not a “set it and forget it” platform. If an organization does not show incremental improvement each year, their GRESB score will likely drop over time when compared to their peer group. Developing a strategy to put your best foot forward in year 1 with a plan for continual improvement is critical for keeping up with your peer group and courting investors who value ESG performance.

Hit the ground running
First time participants have the option of keeping their GRESB score confidential in year 1 as they learn the ropes. Rather than approaching this opportunity as a trial run or throwaway year, breea recommends developing a GRESB Readiness Strategy that identifies current performance and low-hanging fruit opportunities. Implementing these easy wins before your first GRESB response ensures your organization is putting its best foot forward in year 1 so that more strategic GRESB improvement opportunities can be pursued in year 2 and beyond.

Focus on the long game
As investor ESG pressure heats up, organizations wanting to lead their peer group or run with the pack are finding it critical to ink a long-term GRESB strategy to support their larger ESG objectives. Without a strategy in place, sufficient time and resources are rarely devoted to implementing new opportunities each year to maintain or improve GRESB scores. In our experience, many organizations often wait until the end of the year to act, when it's too late. This reactive approach typically results in scoring regression over time. Think chess, not checkers.

breea recommends approaching GRESB like any other long-term corporate initiative that has a material impact on your business. Successful GRESB strategies focus on the long game; setting a strategy for continuous improvement, staying the course, and adapting to change.

Investors are increasingly turning to GRESB and other third-party ESG rating frameworks like MSCI and Sustainalytics to inform their investment decisions. Initiatives that contribute to GRESB will typically improve performance in other ESG rating frameworks, as similar metrics are analyzed. As the relationship between ESG performance and risk strengthens, mapping out a long-term GRESB strategy can improve investor relations and open the door to new opportunities.

What is GRESB?
"GRESB is a mission-driven and investor-led organization that provides actionable and transparent Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data to financial markets. GRESB collects, validates, scores, and benchmarks ESG data to provide business intelligence, engagement tools, and regulatory reporting solutions."- GRESB